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There's nothing like the outdoors!
The season of grills and gardens has begun, with a strong trend toward outdoor kitchens. In Bissendorf, Germany, a start-up has revolutionized outdoor grilling and cooking to make it an all-weather affair – and at Burnout.kitchen, a KUKA robot has become a celebrated star in production.
Which of the 19,969 genes in the human genome is responsible for our attraction to the sizzle of barbecues in the great outdoors? For more than 300,000 years, homo sapiens has left evidence of food prepared over embers and open fires all around the globe. The latest clues lead to Bissendorf in the Osnabrück region of Germany, the home, development and production site of a start-up with the evocative name of Burnout.kitchen.
The start-up ‘Burnout.kitchen’ revolutionizes the joy of grilling and cooking
A mixture of industry and craftsmanship: a KUKA robot is the ‘star’ of production
Burnout.kitchen's founders, Thomas Pabst and Daniel Joachimmeyer – both trained carpenters and wood technicians with great success in the furniture business – responded to the call of their inner nature. “We were frustrated because we always want to grill year round in any kind of weather. But no grill, no outdoor kitchen, enabled us to do that the way we wanted to cook – at a price we were willing to pay.”
Indestructible, weatherproof and stylish
With an instinctive sense that they were not alone in their desire to grill, Pabst and Joachimmeyer quit their lucrative jobs and took practical steps to bring their inner passion to life. “We took a very hard look at a wide variety of ideas and materials. We tried and discarded options, met with specialists and tracked down suppliers who, like us, were enthusiastic about the idea of always being able to grill.” The fruit of these efforts is a modular outdoor kitchen for every taste and need – with integrated cooling and sink units as well as gas, charcoal or ceramic grills. All of it is indestructible, weatherproof and highly stylish – and available 365 days a year.
From moped grill to dream come true
Was it all just a wacky idea? The whim of a few barbecue freaks? “We’re ’80s kids,” said Daniel Joachimmeyer. “We used to go out on our mopeds looking for adventure and partying fun. A moped with a trailer and a grill on it – that was our dream. Now we have our Burnout.kitchen Hercules.”
So much for impracticality. In creating the business idea for Burnout.kitchen, the two founders followed a clear entrepreneurial path that merged the current market and product development, and that includes production from one-off fabrication to (partially) automated industrial manufacturing. Everything is made to measure according to each customer’s order – and buoyed by entrepreneurial foresight.
Lightweight construction and high strength: Is that possible?
At the core of Burnout.kitchen is a highly innovative, indestructible lightweight material. “We discovered the Renolit Gorcell panel material in the automotive sector. It has the internal structure of polypropylene and is absolutely indestructible. Its properties make it impervious to wind and water, UV-resistant and suitable for high-pressure cleaning. Adding a module – even years later – is no problem. That wouldn't work with wood,” Joachimmeyer noted.
Our lightweight material is PVC-free and fully recyclable. This of particular importance to us and our customers. Those of us who want to use an outdoor kitchen that will last for decades place a conscientious priority on sustainability.
Automation as a gateway to scalable production
Scalable production geared towards future growth targets requires forward-looking planning and the integration of production machinery into a sequenced assembly and logistics process. This is all in Thomas Pabst’s IT wheelhouse. For Burnout.kitchen, he connecting the controller of a Homag manufacturing cell into the company’s ERP system to automate panel cutting. “This gives us the leg room to adapt our production dynamically to the company's growth,” explained Pabst.
“We wanted a flexible robot”
Panels need edge processing after they're cut. Within the Homag manufacturing cell, a hot air nozzle welds special laser edges to a panel at 200° C – all completely waterproof, UV-stable and without adhesives. To achieve this, all four sides of a panel must feed past the edge line in a continuous process on a roller conveyor. “A single employee can process up to 1,000 components per shift,” Pabst calculated. In doing so, the employee is assisted by Emma, the newest member of the Burnout.kitchen team: a KUKA KR IONTEC robot acquired last October.
“We wanted a flexible medium-payload robot that offers the largest possible workspace within a confined space,” noted Daniel Joachimmeyer, explaining the requirements for robotics within the Homag manufacturing cell. And all of this had to come at a reasonable cost. “For us as a start-up, it’s not just the investment costs that count, but also the operating and maintenance costs. That’s where our robot Emma – sorry, I mean the KR IONTEC – easily scored high with us.”
Automated panel handling
Emma picks up a panel after edge processing and lifts it onto the opposite side of the roller conveyor. From here, the panel either returns to the workstation for the next edge operation or, at the end of the process, loads onto a transporter for final assembly. Beyond this, the KUKA KR IONTEC palletizes large quantities of series components with matching dimensions. “Without the robot, we could not accommodate this system in our production hall,” said Pabst, reflecting on the lack of space for a continuous roller conveyor system. “Besides that, robotic handling minimizes the static charge that inevitably builds up on the material as the rollers change direction, a charge that can foul the panels with swarf and dust.”
Everyone likes Emma
But how did Burnout.kitchen come to name the robot Emma? Daniel Joachimmeyer shares the secret: “Everyone agreed that a new colleague needs a name, so we thought about it a bit. The idea came from my young son. His best friend’s name is Emma. They go to the same school and have a lot of fun playing together. Emma is always there; absolutely reliable and enormously hardworking. It was a perfect fit. Everyone at the company thinks Emma is great.”
That approval reaches beyond company employees. “When our customers take a look at our production, they are always quite surprised to see a KUKA robot. Emma is a real star for them,” Joachimmeyer said happily. “We were quite surprised at this. The mixture of industry and craftsmanship that we consciously live out at Burnout.kitchen is a real highlight.”
At least as important, however, is the fact that automation offers the young company a way to overcome the shortage of skilled workers. “The furniture industry is centered in our region. It's increasingly difficult to find qualified employees. Robotics help us relieve skilled workers of monotonous, physically demanding work, and give them a greater variety of more-challenging tasks. That’s a win-win for everyone,” the Burnout.kitchen managing director said emphatically.
Locally sourced: from lightweight materials to production
Delivering the most efficient, customized production possible has been part of Burnout.kitchen’s profile from the very beginning. “We develop and manufacture in Germany because we are at home here. We want to see and know exactly which materials go into our outdoor kitchens: stainless steel that's high quality and durable, materials that are easy to wash and can withstand any weather, and pull-out systems that we developed with a leading manufacturer specifically for outdoor applications,” explained Daniel Joachimmeyer.
Benefits of the cocooning effect
The pandemic was a difficult time and an existential threat, especially for small and medium-sized companies – and all the more for start-ups that had yet to develop their market access. “We have benefited from the cocooning effect during this time,” said Thomas Pabst. “Because vacations and restaurant dining were out of the question, many people made themselves more comfortable at home. There was a lot of renovation and investment in gardens and their amenities. Our outdoor kitchens definitely struck a chord.”
In 2020, the company also relocated from Bünde to Bissendorf, about 30 kilometers to the east. A large sunroom manufacturer had moved out of an industrial park for capacity reasons. In addition to the production halls, Burnout.kitchen also "inherited" a large 1,800-square-meter showroom flooded with light.
Our location is a stroke of luck for us. Here, we directly combine development and production, new innovative products and the special outdoor kitchen experience. KUKA’s KR IONTEC – aka Emma – is more than the likable "face" of our future-oriented production.
“Grilling is in our genes”
“For Burnout.kitchen, automation opens up entirely new potential and paths for growth,” the founder noted. “Naturally, we also grill with customers and at events, or just for the fun of it with our employees. Everyone gets to be the grill master,” he said happily. “We’re all a bit crazy about grilling and enjoying things together. That’s exactly why we’re doing all this. It’s just in our genes.”